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Why Choosing Software is Such a Tough Decision in the Modern Era

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Choosing software used to be much simpler and more straightforward. But if you’ve ever been in the position of selecting software for a business, you know that decisions are much more challenging these days. So why is this the case? And is there anything you can do to make your software selection process easier?

The Complexities of Choosing Software

There’s no denying that choosing software for your organization is a difficult and time-consuming decision. These are just some of the reasons why this is the case in the modern era:

The emergence of niche solutions.

Over the past couple of decades, we have seen an explosion in different types of niche software available. No matter what your organization needs, there’s probably a solution that’s been custom designed and built to serve that purpose. Perhaps even a lengthy name and acronym for that specific type of software.

For example, do you know the differences between CMMS and EAM software in the asset maintenance space? For the most part, this is actually a good thing. No matter what your business needs are, there’s probably already software that can address them.

Even better, there’s probably competition in the space, so you can choose between multiple different platforms serving the same function. But this also introduces complexities to the decision.

First, should you choose individual niche platforms for all of the different services you need? You can also choose a comprehensive platform that simultaneously accomplishes many different functions. Second, how niche is too niche? Do you really need a specific software platform to handle this minor problem, or is it something you can tackle on your own?

The sheer number of options 

Software development is a lucrative space. If you create the right platform for the right audience, you could make a lot of money. This has attracted millions of entrepreneurs and developers to the business. Which, in turn, has created millions of options for other business owners.

Even if you’re looking for a specific type of platform, you’re probably going to find dozens, if not hundreds, of competitors to choose from when beginning your research. While we tend to think of more choices as a strictly good thing, this can ultimately bog down our selection processes and make us less satisfied with our final decisions.

Apples and oranges comparisons 

How do you compare two platforms that attempt to accomplish the same goal with totally different approaches? If two platforms are functionally identical, but one costs 20 percent less, it’s easy to decide to purchase the less expensive of the two. But what if they have totally different user experiences, totally different features, and totally different price levels? When comparing apples to oranges, you can never be confident that you’re selecting the superior option.

Bureaucracies and decisions by committee

Organizations sometimes box themselves into more difficult and time-consuming decision processes because of entrenched bureaucracy and decisions made by committees. On some level, this is understandable.

Purchasing software for a large organization is a significant move, so it makes sense that multiple people shouldn’t be involved. This is also a decision that will affect many different people and many different departments. It shouldn’t be made in a vacuum by a single leader. However, it’s difficult to please everyone with every decision, and sometimes, group decision-making takes far longer than it should – and it still results in an uncertain outcome.

Security and potential vulnerabilities

Businesses need to consider the security risks involved with acquiring new software and the potential security vulnerabilities they need to address when acquiring it. This piece of the software buying puzzle is especially complicated and risky, and businesses can’t afford to gloss over it. Many businesses now have dedicated risk assessment teams whose sole job is to evaluate the potential security risks associated with software.

Contractual agreements and legal concerns

Signing a contract for a software service can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’re locking yourself into a 3-year agreement. While many software platforms are happy to have you in a floating, month-to-month agreement, an extended or complicated contract is necessary for more significant arrangements and specific platforms. Reviewing this contract means your decision will take more time. In addition, the stipulations of the contract will make your decision more complicated.

Uncertain futures: business needs

You may have a good grasp of what your business needs now and for the next few years. But, now, what is your business going to need a decade from now? Are you confident that this platform will be able to grow with your business? How can you be sure that your business won’t change in some fundamental way that eventually makes this platform irrelevant?

Uncertain futures: software development

Today’s software products are constantly growing and evolving. Software developers add and remove features as necessary, and make UI updates to improve the experience for users. Are you sure this software is headed in the right direction? How can you be sure?

How to Make Software Selection Easier

If you’re struggling to make software decisions for your organization, there are a few steps you can take to make things easier on yourself.

Start with a needs assessment

Before buying anything for your team, start your journey with a needs assessment. Too many entrepreneurs and product purchasers venture into the market with only a vague idea of what they need. They believe that shopping around will clear things up, helping them identify pain points and visualize what type of solution they need.

However, this can end up complicating things, introducing new ambiguities and new considerations that weren’t on your mind previously. Instead, focus on what you and your team actually need at the ground level, document those needs, then start looking for a solution that addresses them.

Narrow the scope of your decision

As much as possible, narrow the scope of your decision. If you’re choosing a software platform for a specific purpose with no real restrictions, you’re going to be overwhelmed with possibilities. Instead, try to eliminate at least some options immediately; for example, can you set a strict budget for yourself to eliminate all software options that exceed this budget level? Are you only going to be considering software platforms with specific features in place?

Optimize for flexibility and adaptability

Whenever you can, optimize for flexibility and adaptability. If you’re struggling between the two remaining software options, choose the one with more integrations and more customizability. Because the future is uncertain in many different respects, you’re often best off giving yourself as many future options as possible.

Compare apples to apples (however, you can)

Blockchain-based platforms aren’t all the same simply because they rely on the same type of fundamental architecture. Don’t assume that every software product within a given niche is going to perform at the same level, even if they have wildly different looks and features. It’s not always easy, and not always possible to compare different platforms in a fair and direct way – but try to compare apples to apples as much as you can.

Find developers you can trust

Rather than looking at the product only, look at the development team and the brand behind the product. Generally speaking, you’re safe making decisions based on trustworthy and competent developers, rather than the superficial appearance of a software platform.

Take a look at the leadership on this project and the skill level and experience of the developers working on this team. Is there a roadmap in place for improving this product in the future? Do the devs seem to stand by their work?

Choosing software for your business may never be easy or straightforward, but it doesn’t have to be a logistical nightmare. If you use these strategies and you’re willing to remain adaptable and continue learning skills related to software selection, eventually you’ll be in a much better position — and you’ll choose your software with confidence.

Image Credit: Vlada Karpovich; Pexels; Thank you!

Brad Anderson

Editor In Chief at ReadWrite

Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.

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Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses (Reuters)

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Reuters:

Paytm, whose share price has dropped 57% so far this year, reports Q4 revenue of ~$200M, up 89% YoY, and a net loss of ~$98M, up 72% YoY due to higher expenses  —  India’s One 97 Communications Ltd (PAYT.NS), the parent of fintech firm Paytm, on Friday reported a wider fourth-quarter loss due …

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Doctor Strange 2 Surpasses 800 Million at the Box Office

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Image: Marvel Studios

As the weekend winds down, news has come out from The Wrap that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, directed by Sam Raimi, has earned over 800 million dollars officially passing The Batman’s theatrical runs, the last big superhero flick to hit the theaters. Doctor Strange 2 is still a decent chunk of change away from the last Marvel outing–Spider-Man: No Way Home earned 1.89 billion dollars during its release.

The Northman continues to draw audiences, although its release to VOD has made it so that there will likely be little more movement after this weekend. To date the Robert Eggers-directed historical action film earned about 64 million. The film stars Alexander Skarsgård and Anya Taylor-Joy as they attempt to seek revenge and escape the clutches of a dismal fate.

This weekend also saw the first returns for Downton Abbey: A New Era, which brought in 16 million after its opening weekend. Universal Pictures, a specialty production from Universal Studios, released the sequel to 2019’s Downton Abbey, which in turn was a follow-up to the hit television series that ran from 2010 to 2015 and became an international phenomenon. The show follows the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic help across six seasons and fifty-two episodes.

Alex Garland’s horror film of “toxic masculinity,” aptly titled Men, had a solid opening weekend as well (Entertainment Weekly). While 3.3 million might seem modest compared to the big releases, the film is a challenging and divisive watch distributed by the indie darling A24. For a better comparison we can look at the opening numbers for Everything Everywhere All at Once, another A24-distributed film, which netted 3.2 million on its opening weekend.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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Your iPhone Pro Has LiDAR: 7 Cool Things You Can Do With It

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Tim Brookes

Some high-end iPhone and iPad models have a LiDAR scanner integrated into the camera module on the back of the device. This effectively gives your device 3D scanning abilities with a few unique and interesting applications.

RELATED: What Is LiDAR, and How Will It Work on the iPhone?

What Does the LiDAR Scanner Do?

LiDAR stands for Light Detection And Ranging, but it may also be commonly referred to as “3D laser scanning” or some variation thereon. The technology works by bouncing light waves at surfaces and measuring the reaction time to determine the shape and distance of objects in the area.

Think of it like RADAR (RAdio Detection And Ranging) but for light waves. Unlike RADAR imaging, LiDAR can provide more detailed and crisper scans with smaller equipment. LiDAR uses signals that work in the nanometer range, whereas RADAR requires the use of antennas that produce radio waves at much lower frequencies.

Coupled with the software on your iPhone, the LiDAR scanner can be used to create 3D representations of objects and their surroundings. To do this you’ll need the appropriate software which you can download from the App Store. Some core iPhone features, like the Camera app, will use LiDAR in other ways.

At present, only the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro, iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd and 3rd generation), and iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th and 5th generation) are equipped with LiDAR scanners. If you look at the camera array on your device, the LiDAR scanner looks like a small round black circle.

RELATED: How to Use the iPhone Camera App: The Ultimate Guide

Create 3D Scans of Places You Love

Imagine if you had an interactive 3D model of your childhood home or a treehouse you built when you were young. Most of us keep photographs to remind us of places we once lived and loved, but what if instead of flat images we were able to take 3D scans instead?

Well if you have an iPhone or an iPad with a LiDAR scanner on the back, you can do exactly that. Having a 3D space to navigate is a lot more immersive than simply looking at a 2D image. Photographs and videos still have their place, but why not augment your memory bank with something you can experience in three dimensions instead?

This is possible with apps like Polycam, RoomScan LiDAR, and Canvas: Pocket 3D Room Scanner. Most of these apps are free to use, though there are paid upgrades that remove certain restrictions and improve the quality of the scans that you make. You can see LiDAR scanning in action in a YouTube video published by Polycam.

RELATED: How to See 3D Walking Directions in Google Maps

Buying a House? Redecorating? Scan First

Capturing a 3D model of a room or building has some very practical uses. If you’re currently looking to rent or buy a house, taking a scan of the building can help you make up your mind whether or not the place is for you. The process is very similar to taking a walk-through video or series of photographs, both of which are common practices in the real estate world.

Not only is a 3D scan more immersive, but it’s also easier to compare sizes, layout, practical space, and potential for renovation and other major work. We’d recommend taking detailed photos and videos in addition to your scan, which works best with apps like Polycam and RoomScan LiDAR.

If you’re planning major work in a home you already own, a 3D scan can give you a base from which to work in a 3D modeling app like Blender (if you’re comfortable working in such an app). Alternatively, it can provide a nice “before and after” comparison to look back on.

And lastly, selling your house without a real estate agent is surging in popularity. These apps allow you to provide 3D environment scans to potential buyers while still cutting down on expensive agent fees.

RELATED: The Best DIY Home Improvement Apps for iPhone and Android

Create Your Own 3D Assets

Photogrammetry is the act of creating 3D objects from photographic data, and it’s a time-consuming process. While the assets that photogrammetry provides are often highly accurate and detailed, the process of taking an item from a series of photographs to a finished model you can use can take hundreds of hours.

By comparison, a scan made on an iPhone or iPad with an app like Polycam can take a matter of minutes. Scanning an object is a bit like taking a video, and when you’re finished you can export a file that can be used in 3D modeling apps like Blender. Once you’ve tidied up your scan you can import objects into 3D engines like Unity and Unreal.

These engines are used heavily in game development, film, and interactive media. Conor O’Kane is a game developer with a YouTube channel who has not only used this technique but created a tutorial showing how to do this and why small developers might be interested in the process.

Scan and Share Interesting or Cherished Items

Are you a collector? Whatever it is you collect—art, plants, games consoles, or even cars—you might get a kick out of exhibiting it online, in a 3D format. Polycam is perfect for this since it includes built-in model sharing with the rest of the Polycam community, or “polyworld” as the app refers to it.

Some people share ice cream or rock crystals, others share their extensive sneaker collection. Even if you don’t have a LiDAR scanner on your iPhone or iPad, Polycam may still be worth the download just to see what people are scanning and sharing.

It’s like Instagram but for 3D models with an interactive element that other forms of media don’t come close to. It’s easy too, even if you make a bit of a mess while scanning the app has intuitive crop controls that allow you to remove background or surface objects.

Tip: For best results, place your item on a stand, pedestal, or stool before scanning

Take Better Photos in the Dark

Your iPhone and iPad already do this, so you don’t need to activate anything to get the benefit. However, if you’re putting off taking photos in the dark since you don’t trust your device’s autofocus, you might want to reconsider if you have a LiDAR-equipped device.

Since LiDAR is capable of judging distances based on how long it takes the light waves to return to the sensor, autofocus in the dark can be better calculated.

While standard cameras and non-LiDAR equipped models use contrast and phase detection autofocus (what Apple calls “Focus Pixels”) which struggle in low light, your LiDAR-equipped model fares much better. Coupled with Night mode you should be better equipped to take photos in the dark.

Measure More Accurately

You may not have realized this but Apple includes an app called Measure with iOS by default. If you’ve previously discounted and deleted it you can download Measure again for free from the App Store.

The app uses augmented reality to measure real-world distances simply by pointing your phone at a surface. Tap the plus “+” icon to start the measurement and move your device to see it in action.

iPhone Measure app

With a LiDAR scanner, augmented reality is vastly improved on the iPhone and iPad. Measure has gone from being a fun party trick to surprisingly accurate. In our tests, the app was right most of the time, with a margin of error of around 1 cm. This may depend more on how shaky your hands are than anything.

RELATED: How to Measure Distances With Your iPhone

Get More From AR Apps

Measure is just one such AR app that performs better when paired with a LiDAR-equipped iPhone or iPad. Every other AR app can benefit from the sensor, which provides a more stable experience by gauging distance using light rays rather than estimations derived from a “flat” image.

LiDAR really helps to improve the AR experience across the board, like when you’re creating art in apps like World Brush, SketchAR, and Assemblr. Need to provide remote assistance for a real-world problem? Vuforia Chalk allows you to scribble on real-world objects to help relay the point.

Try out various bits of IKEA furniture in your house with IKEA Place, or bring your child’s LEGO sets to life with LEGO Hidden Side, as demonstrated in the above YouTube video published by the Brothers Brick. If you’d rather have a more educational AR experience, Playground AR provides a whole physics sandbox to play around with.

Of course, these experiences are available on just about any recent iPhone, but the experience is considerably more stable with a LiDAR scanner. Find even more apps to enjoy in Review Geek’s roundup of the best AR apps for iPhone and Android.

RELATED: The Best Augmented Reality Apps for iPhone and Android

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